Dallas Restaurant Inspections Not Quite as Up-to-Date as We Thought

Categories: City Hall, Dish

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A week ago, code enforcement officials reported on progress plowing through that backlog of restaurant inspections. The backlog was taken care of with the help of an outside company, they told a City Council committee. From now on, with a few new hires, the department would be able to handle the required twice-per-year inspection of Dallas' 6,100 food-preparing establishments.

After that post, a Friend of Unfair Park pointed us to the city's searchable database of food-inspection scores. Just search for a restaurant, he told us. See when the last inspection was.

You can play along at home by punching in the dining establishment(s) of your choice, but for simplicity's sake, we picked McDonald's. Hundreds of those around, all of which prepare food and require the biannual looksie by the city. And scrolling through the search results, what's the first listing we see? McDonald's on Cedar Springs was last inspected in April 2010. Others have been completed more recently, some in 2011, some in the past few months -- some, but by no means all. A lot haven't been visited by the city since early 2010. In at least a couple of cases, it's 2009. So is the city actually caught up on its backlog?

On Friday, I spoke with James Childress, assistant director of code compliance. "It's a little bit of everything," he told me, by way of explaining the stale food scores. In some cases, he said, the most recent report might not have been promptly uploaded into the database, so some of the establishments that appear not to have been inspected for two years may have been visited yesterday.

Or not. "Right now, obviously, I can't unequivocally say that" the date on the website accurately reflects the date of the most recent inspection, Childress said. The department is preparing to migrate to a new, more efficient computer system that will better track overdue inspections, but the main problem has been budget and staffing cuts that reduced the number of food inspectors by more than a third over the past few years.

The point the department was trying to make to the council was that it was the staffing shortage that had caused the inspection backlog but that the problem had been remedied by recent hires. Many of those hires are still in training, but they will all be fully trained -- and the will be on track to resume twice-per-year inspections -- by the start of the city's new fiscal year on October 1.

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EastDallasResident
EastDallasResident

 Scott, you must be nuts!  Some of the people who open restaurants aren't competent.  The City just got started requiring all the staff in restaurants to have food handling training.  Having a choice to eat at home isn't a choice if you eat something bad and end up in the hospital.  People in hotels sure don't have that choice.

Parmstron3
Parmstron3

Having spent a short stint in local government I can tell you to lop about 10-15 days off for needless, repetetive, mind numbing soul crushing training sessions.  Also lop off about another 20 days for meetings that have mostly nothing to do with you.  Yes I am ashamed to say I worked in local government, you'd be surprised at the number of higher ups in local government that are imported from the socialist north and heavy lib.

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

Real people are behind the 'invisible hand' of the marketplace. And we can get hurt. This January I bought a frozen casserole at a restaurant. When I heated it up that night at home, it tasted moldy, and I got sick. The restaurant went out of business a month or so ago, but on its way down, I wonder how many other people got sick? I see now that it was last inspected in January 2011. If they'd inspected it again a year later, might they have seen and stopped whatever bad practice was causing the food to become tainted? Perhaps not, but you'd remove oversight completely, so there'd be no chance at all.

Karl
Karl

Yeah, they inspected Cane Rosso twice in 2006 and once in 2007.  Got some fairly good scores five years before they opened.  At the very least, it appears the list is reliable, so hats off to the city of Dallas and our fine leaders.  Too bad for term limits because I'd like to keep this crew in office indefinitely.

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

If my math is correct 6100 divided by 300 work days = 20 inspections per day. Yeah, thats the bureaucracy ay work.

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